Pfizer’s Anti-Covid Pill: Paxlovid

Pfizer’s antiviral pill, Paxlovid, has recently been approved by the FDA. It’s the first pill approved by the FDA to treat COVID. In fact, if taken within the first 5 days of onset of symptoms, it can reduce the risk of death and hospitalization by a shocking eighty-eight percent. In addition, data suggests that this pill might also be effective against the new omicron variant.

Patrizia Cavazzoni, the director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement, “Today’s authorization introduces the first treatment for COVID-19 that is in the form of a pill that is taken orally – a major step forward in the fight against this global pandemic.”

Last week, Pfizer’s CEO announced, “Emerging variants of concern, like omicron, have exacerbated the need for accessible treatment options for those who contract the virus … We are confident that, if authorized or approved, this potential treatment could be a critical tool to help quell the pandemic.”

So, how does Paxlovid work?

Paxlovid consists of nirmatrelvir, which is a newly developed antiviral medication. It inhabits a SARS-CoV-2 protein. This, eventually, stops the virus from replicating. It also consists of ritonavir, which is also an antiviral medication. It’s an old school HIV medicine that’s been around for about 25 years. Ritonavir slows down nirmatrelvir’s breakdown and helps it remain in the body for longer. You would need to take the nirmatrelvir pill tablet twice a day and the ritonavir once a day, and repeat this process twice a day for five days.

How do I get Paxlovid?

Well, Paxlovid is, as of now, available by prescription only and there are some requirements in order to take the pill. According to a statement by the FDA, Paxlovid is meant to treat mild-to-moderate covid in adults and pediatric patients. As for children, they must be 12 years or older and weigh at least 88 pounds. People who take the pill must have positive results of direct SARS-CoV-2 testing and they must be at high risk for progression of the virus. It must be so severe that they are at risk of hospitalization or death. 

If I’m eligible to take Paxlovid, when is the ideal time to do so?

According to the FDA, Paxlovid should be taken as fast as possible. It is highly recommended that it is to be taken within the five days off symptom onset. As a refresher, symptoms of Covid may vary depending upon the person, but some common symptoms include fever/chills, cough, shortness of breath/difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle/body aches, headache, loss of taste/smell, sore throat, congestion/runny nose, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, persistent pain or pressure in the chest area, inability to wake or stay awake, and even pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds. 

When can I not take Paxlovid?

Paxlovid is not recommended for patients with severe kidney or liver impairment.

What are some side effects of Paxlovid?

Some common side effects of the pill include impaired sense of taste, diarrhea, and high blood pressure, among others. 

Merck’s Anti-Covid Pill:

Later, the FDA also authorized Merck’s COVID pill, Molnupiravir, but advised to keep its use very minimal. Patrizia Cavazzoni’s statement for the pill was, “Today’s authorization provides an additional treatment option against the COVID-19 virus in the form of a pill that can be taken orally. Molnupiravir is limited to situations where other FDA-authorized treatments for COVID-19 are inaccessible or are not clinically appropriate and will be a useful treatment option for some patients with COVID-19 at high risk of hospitalization or death,” Although it is effective in treating COVID, it is not nearly as effective as Pfizer’s Paxlovid.

However, one topic of concern for many is that the development of the pill might hurt COVID-19 vaccination efforts. Paxlovid is not, by any means, a substitution for the covid vaccine. Even with this new advancement, please make sure you are vaccinated with both doses, and the booster shot if you’re eligible. According to a report by the CDC, unvaccinated people are ten times more likely to be hospitalized or even die from COVID than those who are vaccinated. Thank you for reading, and I hope you have a great day!

Works Cited

Colby, Clifford. “Pfizer COVID Pill Now Authorized by FDA: It Won’t ‘Cure’ Omicron, but Here’s What It Does.” CNET, 22 Dec. 2021, Accessed 30 Dec. 2021.

Nedelman, Michael. “Pfizer: Final Data on Pills to Treat Covid-19 Holds Strong against Hospitalization and Death.” CNN, 14 Dec. 2021, Accessed 30 Dec. 2021.

“Pfizer’s Novel COVID-19 Oral Antiviral Treatment Candidate Reduced Risk of Hospitalization or Death by 89% in Interim Analysis of Phase 2/3 EPIC-HR Study | Pfizer.”, Pfizer Inc., 5 Nov. 2021, Accessed 25 Dec. 2021.Russell, Melanie Vásquez. “6 Things to Know about Pfizer’s COVID Pill Paxlovid.” WATE 6 on Your Side, Nexstar Media Inc., 22 Dec. 2021, Accessed 25 Dec. 2021.